The scrambling and scratching around of politicians and of elements in the media for “values” which would provide ammunition in this battle are to be seen in this light. As we have seen, however, this is extremely thin gruel and hardly adequate for the task before us. Our investigation has shown us the deep and varied ways in which the beliefs, values and virtues of Great Britain have been formed by the Christian faith. The consequences of the loss of this discourse are there for all to see: the destruction of the family because of the alleged parity of different forms of life together; the loss of a father figure, especially for boys, because the role of fathers is deemed otiose; the abuse of substances (including alcohol); the loss of respect for the human person leading to horrendous and mindless attacks on people; the increasing communications gap between generations and social classes.The list is very long.
Is it possible to restore such discourse to the heart of our common life? Some would say it is not possible. Matters have gone too far in one direction and we cannot retrace our steps. Others would be hostile to the very idea. They have constructed their lives and philosophies around the demise of Christianity as an element in public life, and they would be very inconvenienced if it were to put in an appearance again. It remains the case, however, that many of the beliefs and values which we need to deal with the present situation are rooted in the Judaeo-Christian tradition. Are we to receive these as a gift, in our present circumstances, or, once again, turn our backs on them?
In the context of public discussion, and even in the case of legislation, crude utilitarianism, public approbation or revulsion (the so-called yuck factor) or the counting of heads are being found increasingly unsatisfactory, especially when an estimate of the human person is involved. Nor are the “thin” values of respect, decency and fairness enough. We need something more robust. In such situations, we often find overt or covert appeals to transcendental principles enshrined in the Judaeo-Christian tradition.
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